All chronically ill people have adrenal dysfunction and the adrenals regenerate in most cases when all relevant oxygen-related elements are addressed. Adrenal support (supplementation) is often necessary for months, sometimes for longer periods, during adrenal recovery.
There are 10 important considerations concerning adrenal dysfunction within the broad context of oxygen homeostasis, adrenal dysfunction and healing:
- The existence of adrenal dysfunction can be easily established with simple urine tests.
- The adrenal dysfunction of every individual requires an individualised integrative plan for regeneration and recovery.
- The essential ‘adrenal question’ is not what diagnostic label is chosen for a person with a dysfunctional gland. We are all affected by contaminated foods, habitat chemicalisation, and unrelenting stress. The question is rather how adrenal function can be assessed and restored.
- The degrees of adrenal dysfunction are best assessed clinically, as well as with the measurement of 24-hour urinary excretion of adrenal and gonadal metabolites.
- Adrenal regeneration requires spiritual equilibrium and full restoration of oxygen homeostasis.
- All disruptions of the bowel, blood, and liver ecosystems must be effectively addressed for adrenal homeostasis.
- In my clinical experience, the direct short-term adrenal support is optimally provided with hydrocortisone, beginning with small doses of 2.5 mg twice daily to larger doses of 10 to 20 mg daily.
- The inter-relationships of the adrenal gland with stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA), gonadal output, insulin metabolism, and the energy economy cannot be understood except by looking through the prism of oxygen homeostasis.
- Most people with adrenal dysfunction pass from an initial overactive (hyperadrenergic or Cushing’s syndrome-like state) to a later underactive (hypoadrenergic, Addison’s disease-like) state.
- An increasing number of young people are ‘gender-skewed’ — females are ‘male-like’ and males are ‘female-like,’ so to speak — and the adrenals play crucial roles in the phenomenon of gender devolution.
The Adrenal Gland Is Oxygen’s Crisis Manager
The Oxygen King of human biology evolved the adrenal gland to serve as its primary crisis manager. Oxygen preserves the structural and functional integrity of adrenals in many ways. When adrenals falter, oxygen strengthens them by evoking homeostatic responses in other regulatory systems of the body. When the glands are exhausted, oxygen regenerates them. When the Oxygen King is besieged by toxic overloads and is unable to create conditions for adrenal regeneration, the glands fail, collapsing the entire crisis management functions of the body.
When survival is threatened, oxygen mounts a ‘total-body response’ for maximal effort to counter the threat. Oxygen directs the adrenal glands to release bursts of catecholamines to support the highest level of preparedness throughout the body. Catecholamines — epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopa, and others — are some of the most potent oxidisers in human biology and energise host defences of all cell populations. Below are the aspects of oxy-radical dynamics that support my evolutionary perspective of the oxygen-driven adrenal differentiation and function.
Adrenal Supplementation for Adrenal Regeneration
I care for people with adrenal dysfunction. I do not treat adrenal diseases. The cases of benign adrenal tumours and adrenal cancers, of course, are different. I have addressed the crucial issues of philosophic and spiritual equilibrium and the restoration of the bowel, blood, and liver ecosystems in past articles. As for providing adrenal support until there is sufficient adrenal regeneration, there are two approaches:
- Direct support with hydrocortisone
- Indirect support with raw adrenal extract, phytofactors (plant remedies), and nutrients.
Below, I relate how I concluded that direct adrenal support yields superior clinical results in most cases. In the mid-1980s, I investigated the clinical benefits of bovine raw adrenal concentrate, as well as phytofactors and nutrients for adrenal support. Among the phytofactors, prescribed in combinations and rotations, were daily doses of roots of liquorice (DGL form 500 to 1 000 mg), rehmannia (500 to 750 mg), ashwargandha (100 to 200 mg), and Chinese yam (500 to 750 mg). Among the nutrients were daily doses of pantothenic acid (50 to 150 mg), pyridoxin (25 to 50 mg), riboflavin (10 to 20 mg), and ascorbic acid (1 000 to 2 000 mg). These adrenal factors were prescribed concurrently with antioxidants, minerals, and redox-restorative substances, such as glutathione, MSM, taurine, and others. In the early 1990s, I compared the clinical benefits of the above factors with those of DHEA, pregnenolone, and androstenodione in daily doses of 25 to 50 mg each for men and for women half as much on alternate days. In the mid-1990s, I undertook a systematic study of hydrocortisone.
The use of hydrocortisone
Based on that experience, in my hands most patients with adrenal deficit respond best to direct adrenal support with hydrocortisone (daily doses of 5 to 20 mg). The short-term use of low-dose hydrocortisone is safe, effective, and without any adverse effects. It is widely misunderstood because it is confused with high-dose synthetic steroid therapy.
The subject of initial adrenal support with hydrocortisone creates unnecessary confusion in the minds of many people uninitiated in this therapy. They fail to see the difference between gentle adrenal support with low-dose hydrocortisone and massive synthetic steroid therapy in common use among the practitioners of pharmacologic medicine.
I urge readers to consult an experienced integrative physician to guide them for adrenal regeneration and healing. In The Three-Legged Throne of Oxygen and Adrenals in the February/March 2008 issue of the Townsend Letter, I presented a full description of my Oxygen’s Three-Legged Throne model. The crucial point of this model is that oxygen is the prime mover of human biology. It is neither a substrate in the oxygen-signalling phenomenon nor in the oxygen-driven cellular energetics. Dysfunctional oxygen homeostasis (dysox) is the state of disrupted oxygen signalling and oxygen-driven bioenergetics.
The Oxygen Model of Disease is a unifying model of enormous explanatory power — for understanding the basic nature of the disease processes, as well as for designing testable, rational, and scientifically sound integrative plans for restoring health. My Oxygen Model of Adrenal Dysfunctions is at significant variance from the current thinking in endocrinology. Endocrinologists, with rare exception, continue to be preoccupied with named adrenal syndrome — Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, Conn’s syndrome, and Sheehan’s syndromes — as well as pituitary tumours and hypothalamic disorders. Such lesions account for an exceedingly small number of chronically ill individuals with objectively and quantifiably detected adrenal dysfunction. This, indeed, is one of the core messages of this article. My assertions are based on extended clinical work with over 7 500 patients with chronic illness and on close analysis of over 900 profiles of the 24-hour urinary excretion of steroid compounds.
The crucial clinical importance of the Dysox Model of Adrenal Dysfunction is that it requires an unfaltering focus of all relevant issues of oxygen homeostasis regardless of the patient’s adrenal status on the CushinoidAddisonian spectrum — in the early Cushinoid over-activity phase, in the eventual Addisonian failure, or in the intervening states of overactivity or depletion. In clinical practice, I consider it imperative for creating conditions that foster adrenal functional restoration and recovery.